[b-greek] nasty EINAI clauses

From: Nicholas A Bailey (nicholas_bailey@sil.org)
Date: Tue Nov 20 2001 - 16:31:58 EST

To: b-greek group

I am looking for any literature people can point me to that discusses the
more difficult to interpret NT EINAI clauses.

What I mean by difficult are those nasty cases like when two nominative
case clause constituents are linked by EINAI and it is not obvious which
one is the logical (or grammatical) subject (or which is the “topic” about
which a “comment” is given).

McGaughy 1972 wrote a useful dissertation on EINAI clauses, and Goetchius
1976 made some probing comments in an otherwise very positive review of
McGaughy. But I’m looking for some newer things.

To give you an example of what I mean by a nasty case, consider John 20:31
…hOTI IHSOUS ESTIN hO XRISTOS. Goetchius suggests (and D. A. Carson 1987
argues) that this means “that the Messiah is JESUS” (the capital letters
here indicate intonational STRESS). If so the original audience was
assumed to be aware of the fact that there was a Messiah (who would show
up someday) but that they were generally uncertain about which person the
Messiah might be. This exegesis however contrasts with that of many
translations, which render this verse, “that Jesus was the Messiah”. This
latter rendering would suggest that the author John was trying to convince
people who Jesus was (that he was the Messiah) and not the other way

For those readers who are familiar with “Colwell’s Rule”, the clause in
John 20:31 conforms to it. Colwell 1933 showed there was a strong
association for PREVERBAL (einai) predicate nominals (i.e. the noun which
is not the subject) which are definite (or known) in meaning to LACK THE
ARTICLE, and reciprocally, for POSTVERBAL predicate nominals which are
definite (or known) to HAVE THE ARTICLE. Colwell’s rule is a very handy
one to be aware of. For example, it strongly supports the view that in
John 1:1 KAI QEOS HN hO LOGOS means “and the Word was God” and not “and
the Word was divine”.

Significantly though there are a handful of EINAI clauses in the NT which
do not conform to Colwell’s Rule (he mentions some 41 cases out of 367)
and it is these that I am interested in, as well as any recent works that
discuss such nasty cases.

Can anybody help me?

Thanks for your attention everyone,
Nick Bailey

McGaughy, Lane C. 1972, Toward a descriptive analysis of EINAI as a
linking verb in New Testament Greek. Journal of Biblical Literature

Goetchius, E. V. N. 1976. Review of Lane C. McGaughy, 1972, Toward a
descriptive analysis of EINAI as a linking verb in New Testament Greek.
Journal of Biblical Literature 95.147-149.

Carson, D. A. 1987. “The purpose of the fourth Gospel”. Journal of
Biblical Literature 106.639-651.

Colwell, E. C. 1933. A definite rule for the use of the article in the
Greek New Testament. Journal of Biblical Literature 52.12-21.

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